Tern bicycles was created in 2011 by Joshua & Florence Hon ( mother and son ), and quickly became a major player in the folding bicycle market. Joshua is the son of Dr. David Hon, creator of the Dahon folding bicycle company, while Florence was Dr. David Hon’s wife. Soon after their launch they were pulled into court by Dahon. In the complaint, Dahon claimed both Joshua and Florence breached their fiduciary duties as officers of Dahon. The complaint reads like a soap opera, but to summarize, it states that Joshua and Florence took intellectual property from Dahon and put it into a corporation solely held by them. They also took the Dahon.com URL from Dahon. The case was settled out of court in 2013. This was an ominous beginning for Tern…..things got worse fast.
On June 27 of 2013, Tern, in conjunction with the CPSC in the USA, issued a recall for limited Eclipse and Verge models. In the recall notice it was stated that two frames failed just in front of the folding hinge. Then in December of 2013, a rider in the UK created a disturbing thread on Tern’s forum. His name is Lee Tibbets, and he titled it “Tern Link D8 frame shearing in two”. He stated that his frame broke in two while riding, he hit the pavement and was knocked unconscious, then hospitalized. Later he found that he had torn cartilage. On January 27 of 2014, a user named re-tern from the UK posted that the same has happened to him. He states,”The frame snapped suddenly without any warning whatsoever around the weld on the front part of the frame where the folding hinge is attached resulting in me coming off the bike and smashing my left hand on the floor cutting and fracturing my index finger and heavily cutting abd bruising my right elbow and right leg.“ Tern representatives posted nice notes of support for the injured customers. Then a user named adr posted,”the same thing happened to me” on February 19, 2014. He later states, “Without no warning I was flung onto the road injuring my arm and hip.” On March 25, 2014 Johnathan_J posted, “Well just comming back from the hospital…. “ his bike failed as well.
About this time the Tern employees seemed to stay away from the forum. Other than a note from Josh Hon, the Tern staff became much more silent. On April 1, 2014 jfx posted the same happened to him on a 6 month old Eclipse P9. All the previous faults were on Link frames, hence this was the first different frame. The very next day the forum became private, so only registered users could read posts. Previously, the board had been public for all to see. This did not go over well with some users, and the volume of posts to the forum exploded. Then on April 4, 2014 jimothwald posted that his Verge x30h snapped. Things died down for a little until Christineengland, a 52 year-old woman that weighs 140lbs, reported that her Verge X10 broke in half, causing injuries and mental trauma. She was on a bike tour and states that the biking part of the trip is over. This was the 7th frame failure in the UK and third different style frame (4 Links, 1 Eclipse, and 2 Verge ). At best, Tern has been very slow to respond to its UK customers, and at worst this behavior would seem negligent. All the frames have broken in the same place, and none of the affected individuals had a clue anything was wrong until it was too late.
If you have a Tern, please be careful, and please share this information with anyone that owns a Tern folding bicycle.
The information contained in this article was compiled and submitted by a folding bike enthusiast, and we are passing it along as a service to other cyclists.